Here are not one, but two reports from our London Photowalk.
First from our Chairman Michel
The 2nd event of the Reading Camera Club Summer programme brought us on Saturday June 24th to London Spitalfields and Soho areas. Our group of 5 members walked along Brick Lane and the Liverpool Street station area, then moved to Tottenham Court Road, down through Soho, Chinatown and Trafalgar Square; a long but enjoyable day of recording the street scenes and architecture of 2 distinct London areas.
Our 2nd report is from Tom Warlow
It was a late June excursion; the weather was mixed but warm—between overcast and sunny. Our phones suggested rain would come but we weren’t worried. For photographers, any weather can make for an evocative frame, so we packed our clothes for any instance and met outside Reading Station for a quick journey into London. A small group of members gathered outside the main entrance, lenses and gear were discussed briefly before we headed on a fast train to Paddington to begin a day of photography.
On arriving at our terminus, we gathered our kit and made our way to the first spot of interest: London Liverpool Street Station. The hustle and bustle of the busy station was overwhelming, but the Saturday travellers made for interesting subjects before a brisk walk towards Brick Lane. On our journey, our chairman Michel tutored the group on his favourite locations and camera settings. A few of us enjoyed the taking in the sights of the area—the Gherkin and the Cheesegrater’s iconic visages beaming down into the more traditional streets.
A leisurely walk to Brick Lane in the east brought us to London’s street art epicentre. A colourful mélange of slogans, posters, graffiti, and intricate sculptures from street to sky took our interests as we meandered past locals and tourists alike. Brick Lane is a living gallery with parodies of adverts and political campaigns exploding all around. Step back and view from across the street to admire the vastness of work on display, or peer in to a micro level to enjoy hidden poems, musings, and tiny gargoyles. A hive of expression, this part of London provides inspiration through fashion and cuisine—as well as art—so watching the people traverse the Lane was as engaging as the technicolour edifices.
Onwards on a circular walk back towards the station had a few of us discussing our specific photographic interests. Some of us looking for a human story, some looking for something more abstract and architectural. It’s safe to say that London has it all, no matter what you enjoy capturing. On returning up Bishopsgate, the rush of people had truly begun. Lunchtime commuters pooling at the escalators down to the station, preachers bloviating to the amassed crowd, midday drinkers laughing and chatting at roadside pubs. The smell of the lunchtime rush snaked through the crowds, and we decided to make our way to a more central location.
Tottenham Court Road and Chinatown were next on the list. The throngs of people increased as we dodged and darted around, trying to find order in the chaos. The sun reflected artfully off mirrors and windows, providing a harsh light that can be a blessing or a curse for camera-lovers. We all took the conditions in our stride and did with them what we could. Some of us holding our cameras low, trying to snap those special candid portraits of interesting Londoners. Gerrard Street, with all its red-lanterned gateways, provided us with a wall of subjects; close quarters combat between cameras and foci commenced, however I can safely say that not all shots were on target!
The sights and sounds of Chinatown pushed us down towards Trafalgar, where an event stopped us from entering the square proper. However, an eye-catching and frenetic protest drew our eyes for the final part of the walk. After a rather long ramble across the capital (approx. 13,000 steps), we rested our feet at the edge of the square and had some water before heading back towards Paddington and eventually Reading. Overall, London provided a plethora of photographic opportunities for all involved. Being able to react quickly to different moments that the street provides is a great skill for any photographer, personally I felt the trip provided me with some valuable experience in capturing the ever-changing canvas of the city.